Hitting the road should be a fun time, but if you’ve got a family and aren’t prepared, it can be frustrating. No one wants to hear, “Are we there yet?” mile after mile!
Hopefully these tips will keep everyone happy as you tool down the road. As we all know, if momma’s not happy, nobody’s happy!
Get the kids involved in the plan. Print out a map with the trip laid out so they can check off places as they go. It’s a great way to learn too. Just don’t tell them that!
Bring some books or load up your eBook reader with information about your destinations. The more the kids know about the place you’re visiting the better. It makes the experience much more personal and memorable. You can quiz them about the facts on your destination, just to see if they are listening!
Load up the backpacks. One thing Deb and I like to do is let the kids pack personal items, like toys and books in a backpack. This way their stuff is all together and easy for them to get to. Plus they feel more in control since they get to fill the backpack the way they want. It also makes it easy to transfer their belongings from the vehicle to the Airstream.
Pack a road trip journal in their backpacks. Tell them to write about their experiences each day on the vacation. It can just be a few short sentences. Make sure they do it everyday while it’s fresh in their head. There will always be something to write about. It may be something they did or saw that day. Be sure they date each entry. This will be something they treasure when they are older. A simple spiral notebook will do, or you can get creative and decorate the cover before your trip.
Don’t forget the snacks! As the mom, you are the event coordinator while dad’s driving down the road. You’re the head of the entertainment and food committees too. So be prepared with snacks. Lots of them! Pack your kids favorite snacks that are vehicle friendly, meaning easy to eat without making a mess. Once you’ve packed enough for the day’s drive, add some more! Along with those snacks be sure to bring plenty of water. It’s important to stay hydrated. Since you have your Airstream in tow, it’s easy to restock.
Bring some entertainment. When Debra and I started out years ago on our family road trips, we’d let everyone pick a couple of DVD’s. These DVD’s go in a separate bag that rides in the vehicle with a portable DVD player. The kids would take turns watching movies. The entertainment committee leader would constantly have to deal with changing DVD’s, plugging in the charger, monitoring complaints on how the movie skips. This ends up being a lot of work!
On our trip across country we figured out a way around this tiresome issue. I loaded up my
macbook with several of the kids favorite movies that they could access from their iPads. I also purchased iPad holders for the seat headrests. Each kid could select and watch their own movies and listen to them via their headphones. No more messing with DVDs!. Problem solved! Since they are iPads, they can also play their favorite apps.
Some cars have screens built-in for the rear passengers that helps check this one off your list. If you’re vehicle doesn’t, you can buy after-market radios or head units that have the capability. Honestly, the iPad option probably gets you more bang for the buck! One more thing on apps. Make sure the ones they bring do not require the internet unless you have a mifi type connection while on the road. A mifi can provide wireless internet, but requires service from a cellular provider.
Make sure to get some screen-free time too! Pack some books for reading or coloring. Maybe it’s time to bring the kids back to your roots by teaching them the alphabet game, or the good ‘ol ‘I Spy’! A big part of being on the road are the sites you see out the window. Don’t let the little ones miss it!
Make frequent stops. Everyone can use a stretch break now and then. We carry a frisbee for rest areas, just to get the kids energy out. Since your Airstream is in tow – pull over and rest a bit before lunch in the trailer. No need to grab fast food when you carry your refrigerator and healthy choices with you.
Stop and see the sites. Don’t make the destination be the only thing on your mind. Remember the journey is just as important.
If you happen across a roadside attraction, don’t think you’ll catch it next time, you may never be this way again. Take the time.
Make memories. Take lots of photos. One thing we like to do is take a picture of the Airstream near each of our stops. Of course we also take photos of the family and attractions. Makes a nice photo album project once you’re home.
Make stopping to visit family and friends priority. On our cross-country trip we were able to visit four different family members in four different states! Something that wouldn’t be possible if we flew in a plane. We also found that our kids enjoyed visiting their cousins, uncles, and aunts, even more than the attractions. So don’t count them out.
The great thing about visiting family in your Airstream is that you have your own place to sleep. Sure its fun to visit and catch up on things, but its nice to return to your trailer for a peaceful nights rest. If your lucky, you’ll get to boondock there too!
Enjoy the time together. As mom’s know all too well, time files while watching your kids grow. Don’t let the time slip by and wish you had spent more time together. A family road trip can bring everyone together for memorable experiences. Enjoy the journey and build lasting memories together!